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Old time atmosphere at The Stadium of Light

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Alf Ramsey knew my grandfather

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“Alf Ramsey” cast to appear before Burnley game, Lipton Trophy to be aired!

I won’t be able to see Sunderland playing against Burnley this afternoon at the Stadium of Light, in fact I’ll be nowhere near South Shields at all as we travel away on a long standing engagement, so this may be the only blog post of the day. South Shields playwright Ed Waugh, whose politics are not my cup of tea – but he does have a good seam of humour in him – is sending the cast of “Alf Ramsey Knew my Grandfather” on to the pitch at Sunderland this afternoon for a pre game appearance.

Older readers may well recall the 1982 film “The World Cup: A Captain’s Tale” which starred Dennis Waterman, him of “The Sweeney”, Nigel Hawthorne, Andrew Keir, and Tim Healey, which depicted the exploits of the boys from West Auckland as they undertook the onerous trip to Italy to play against Stuttgart and FC Winterthur and in what was to be the world’s first cup competition for clubs. Incredibly the lads from West Auckland, competing for the Sir Thomas Lipton Trophy, won it in 1909 and even managed to retain the trophy two years later in 1911 against clubs from Switzerland, Germany, and Italy beating Juventus in the final and returning the cup to  County Durham. They were allowed to keep the trophy in perpetuity but it was stolen in 1994 and now the West Auckland Workingmen’s Club only has a replica.

It will be this replica of The Sir Thomas Lipton Trophy which will be paraded at the ground this afternoon by the cast of the play (I hope they will be wearing the “replica” woollen jerseys of West Auckland too it will add a good sense of history to the game, especially as so many Sunderland footballers were recruited from County Durham during that period).

Ed has sent me this, and I’m happy to help out, and hope that plenty of South Shields folks get along to today’s match or even better get along to Newcastle’s Theatre Royal to see Ed’s play.

Sunderland Football Club have invited Alf Ramsey Knew My Grandfather cast members onto the Stadium of Light’s hallowed turf on Saturday to display the impressive Sir Thomas Lipton Trophy prior to the Premiership match against Burnley.

The play, about the West Auckland football team who won the first world cup in 1909, is to transfer to Newcastle Theatre Royal in May.

Niall Quinn, Sunderland’s charismatic chairman, will attend the pre-match event, which will be used to publicise the “greatest football story ever” – when a team of miners from West Auckland in County Durham were invited to compete for the inaugural world cup in Italy against the top professional teams from Germany, Switzerland and Italy.

“West” beat German champions Stuttgart Sportfreunde 2-0 in the semi-finals before seeing off the Swiss champs FC Winterthur 2-0 in the final.

The lads returned to Turin, Italy, in 1911 and won the cup outright after hammering the mighty Juventus 6-1.

The play, written by former Vaux Breweries worker and Sunderland Polytechnic student Ed Waugh and Trevor Wood, premiered at the Gala theatre in Durham last April to mark the centenary of the first achievement, was a huge success. Around 4,500 people attended and by the end of the 10-show run, it was playing to full houses at the 500-seat venue.

West Auckland were a team of County Durham miners playing in the Northern League when they were invited by the Glasgow-born tea magnate Sir Thomas Lipton to participate in the inaugural world cup in Turin, Italy.

“West” subsequently kept the cup but it was stolen in 1994 and an exact replica today takes its place in West Auckland Working Men’s Club. People come from all over the world to pay respect to the achievement of these plucky miners.

Ed Waugh said: “This is an incredible non-partisan, forgotten episode in football history.

“Sunderland has always been a brilliant community club and we can’t thank everyone involved enough for allowing us to bring this story to many more thousands of people.

“Alf Ramsey Knew My Grandfather is a fantastic story of fairytale proportions about the sacrifice of the lads and lasses who made this incredible story happen.

“While football is its central theme it’s really a story about characters, community, solidarity and friendship – a bit like Auf Wiedersehen, Pet with balls!”

Alf Ramsey Knew My Grandfather runs at the Theatre Royal, Newcastle, from Tuesday, May 11, until Saturday, May 15. Telephone 08448 11 21 21 or visit www.theatreroyal.co.uk

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2 Responses

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  1. I have got my tickets for the play, Curly. I am an old political mate of Ed’s from way back. It’s his taste in football teams I deplore! I’ll be at the SOL this afternoon too

    Delilahcat

    April 17, 2010 at 12:22 pm

  2. Hope the game was good, I caught the result on the way home from a photoshoot in Whitby, the three points were certainly welcome.

    curly

    April 18, 2010 at 1:31 am


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